brnchn (brnchn) wrote in times_xwd_times,
brnchn
brnchn
times_xwd_times

Times Cryptic No 27960 - Saturday, 24 April 2021. In dire straits?

This was fun. About standard weight for a Saturday puzzle, with lots to enjoy.

I confess that once I saw the helpers for 14dn, I decided I had no interest in trying to guess where the B, D and N went, so I looked it up! Everything else is gettable, even 18ac where the wordplay gave the spelling. I didn’t quite understand 28ac, although the answer is obvious. Dire Straits? Cue Mark Knopfler!

Thanks to the setter for a very enjoyable puzzle. How did you all get on? Here we go.
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Notes for newcomers: The Times offers prizes for Saturday Cryptic Crosswords. This blog is posted a week later, after the competition closes. So, please don’t comment here on the current Saturday Cryptic.

Clues are blue, with definitions underlined. Deletions are struck through.
Across
1 Have operation slightly less dangerous than Damocles? (2,5,3,5)
GO UNDER THE KNIFE – better than under a sword, I agree.
9 I indicate we are to leave miserable cell (4,5)
BLUE PETER – the Blue Peter was originally a blue maritime signal flag meaning "P" or "outward bound", flown to warn a ship's crew in port of an imminent sailing. Take BLUE for miserable, and add PETER which we now discover can mean prison cell.
10 Engrave plaque initially unwanted by playwright (5)
INTERPINTER is the playwright. This meaning of the answer is in Chambers as obsolete.
11 Drunk, though a round behind (6)
LAPPED – double definition. The milk is drunk, or the track racer is lapped.
12 Like Elizabeth, popular online, full of spirit (8)
VIRGINAL – GIN in VIRAL. One of my last.
13 Make pet harmless, the rule at Christmas? (6)
DECLAW – or DEC LAW: is the law in December any different from other months?
15 Spotting row containing fruit, mostly good (8)
DAPPLING – APPLE in DIN, followed by G for good.
18 Repetitive disease spares one small shrub (8)
BERBERIS – BERI-BERI is the disease. Take out (spare) an I, add S for small. Generous wordplay.
19 Grotesque figure runs into battle (6)
FRIGHT – R in FRIGHT.
21 Stingy type is irrational, love held in contempt (8)
SCORPION – PI is an irrational number. 0 is love in tennis. Put them both in SCORN. You need to read the definition with a hard G.
23 Affected elegant greeting (3-3)
CHI-CHI – CHIC is elegant, HI is the greeting.
26 Old character returning in Sky feature (5)
DRACO – O for old, CARD for character. Turn it all round. The sky feature is a northern constellation.
27 End of fighting in Crimea: it’s ruined (9)
ARMISTICE – anagram (ruined) of CRIMEA ITS.
28 In dire straits after reputation collapsed, a first for relatively wealthy area (11,4)
STOCKBROKER BELT – I’m not sure I quite understand this clue, so if anyone can help, please comment!

I think STOCK = reputation, BROKE = collapsed. With less confidence, BELT = in dire strait(s), although I’m not quite sure how that last bit fits. Chambers does say ‘belt’ can mean ‘strait’, or vice versa, but I don’t know why ‘straits’ plural would become ‘belt’ singular.

Anyway, insert R from Relatively, and voila!

Down
1 Ate so fast, mouth appeared injured (7)
GOBBLED – his GOB BLED!
2 Our faction in revolt about king — who did this? (5)
USURP – US + UP around R. A clue where it’s hard to pin down how much is the definition!
3 Protest against fall in value — I missed out (9)
DEPRECATE – take an I out of DEPRECIATE.
4 Wrap is sexy, shortened at both ends (4)
ROTI – take the ends off EROTIC. I think of a roti as just the bread, not a wrap, but I can see it could be used for that.
5 Hard rain disturbed shrew (8)
HARRIDAN – anagram (disturbed) of HARD RAIN.
6 Flooring put round in one of the clubs, perhaps (5)
KOING – put a round O in the KING of clubs. The answer is flooring as in K.O.-ing.
7 Meaning one attached to how the Book of Revelation may be seen? (9)
INTENDING – I for one, then the book in question is the N.T. ENDING, since it’s the very last book of the Bible.
8 It is put in the canal to limit waves (7)
EARPLUG – cryptic definition.
14 Can do boar stew or beef stew (9)
CARBONADO – anagram (stew) of CAN DO BOAR. The answer is in Chambers, but to me it’s still basically a foreign word, unhelpfully clued as an anagram.
16 Ship’s officer drinking tea he buys (9)
PURCHASER – PURSER drinking CHA.
17 Monster (“bully”) youngster clutches almost tight (8)
MINOTAUR – MINOR clutches TAUT. “Bully” because the minotaur had the head of a bull.
18 Places for well-mannered doctor, having a day out too (7)
BESIDES – take a D out of the doctor’s BEDSIDES, where he/she displays that bedside manner. Very clever.
20 Divide up equally to sample sparkling wine, say (7)
TRISECT – try secs Sekt, do you hear? Sec Sekt is German sparkling wine.
22 Board given nothing to replace a cheap bottle (5)
PLONK – take a PLANK and change an A to an O.
24 For recitation, get up this poetic tract (5)
CLIME – sounds like CLIMB.
25 Rooms known to be reduced in snowy city (4)
OMSK – hidden answer.
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